From having read a few Philippa Gregory books, I was staring to wain a little from her so this was last chance saloon. Thankfully Gregory has managed to grab my attention again with The Taming of the Queen, a story highlighting Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife Catherine Parr.
Once again the author brings to life the Tudor court, where one minute you could be in favour and the next imprisoned in the tower. I have never known much about Catherine Parr other than she outlived the King – we all know the rhyme and know she survives. But in this story it’s the journey and rollercoaster of emotions that Gregory takes us through that is the triumph.
Well written and entirely engaging we learn about Catherine Parr and how she apprehensively agreed to marry Henry VIII. She had obvious doubts due to past track record – I imagine if he had a bio on Tinder, it would leave most girls running for the hills.
Though Henry showers her with gifts, Catherine has an underlying feeling that makes her feel understandably uneasy, especially as some of the gifts belonged to his ex-wives. Catherine was divided by her duty as a wife, queen and step-mother to the king’s three children, and her forbidden love for Thomas Seymour, plus she was also the first women to be published for her work under her own name. She had a lot to juggle, but then throw in Henry’s temperament and his constant changing mind, it’s any wonder she didn’t have a breakdown. She lived on a constant knife-edge with the knowledge the smallest thing could mean her downfall. And it very nearly did…
I would have loved to have read more about Catherine’s life after Henry’s death, as I know it was pretty turbulent. Although Gregory touches on this in her author’s notes, I felt the book came to rather an abrupt stop, especially when I know there was more to be told. Despite this, I will definitely read Gregory’s next book and look forward to being transported back to the Tudor age once more.